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Preventing Gun Violence

Every day, gun violence takes the lives of more than one hundred people in America, disproportionately people from Black and Latino communities.Gramlich, John. “What the Data Says about Gun Deaths in the U.S.” Pew Research Center. August 16, 2019. Black men make up just six percent of the population, but account for 51 percent of homicide victims.Urban Gun Violence.” Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. This is not acceptable. Nor is this normal—the United States is the only country in the developed world where this kind of gun violence happens routinely.Lopez, German. “America's Gun Problem, Explained.” Vox. August 31, 2019.

Over and over, politicians in Washington condemn the loss of life and offer their condolences. They talk about change, but it remains easier to buy weapons of war than a bottle of beer. In addition to the senseless pain and loss of life, we’ve traumatized an entire generation and are set to traumatize yet another. A 14-year-old writes out a will in case she doesn’t make it home from ninth grade. A middle school boy takes the long route to the park so he doesn’t have to worry about stray bullets. A car backfiring causes panic at a parade.

Over and over, politicians in Washington condemn the loss of life and offer their condolences. They talk about change, but it remains easier to buy weapons of war than a bottle of beer.

It’s time to stop accepting the unacceptable and start accepting our responsibility to change it. To address this urgent public health crisis and secure our communities, the politics of cut-and-paste condemnation and inaction must give way to a new and different approach. Pete is proposing a plan that speaks clearly about the problems we face, and puts forth bold solutions that will meet those challenges.

Create standards for responsible gun ownership.

  • Expand background checks to apply to all gun sales, including sales from unlicensed sellers at gun shows or online. We need to make sure anyone who owns or carries a gun is responsible and does not pose a threat to themselves or others. We also need background checks everywhere guns are purchased—including on transactions conducted over the internet and at gun shows, with reasonable exceptions for immediate family members, law enforcement, and emergency self defense.
  • Establish a nationwide permit-to-purchase licensing system to be implemented at the state level. By implementing a comprehensive system of gun licensing, we will reduce illegal gun trafficking and lower gun suicides and homicides.Amnesty International. “In the Line of Fire: Human Rights and the US Gun Violence Crisis.” Amnesty USA. 2018. Additionally, Pete supports expanding the permit-to-purchase program to include ammunition sales—including online ammunition sales—to ensure both firearms and ammunition are subject to a background check.
  • Close the “Charleston loophole,” also known as the “default proceed” provision. Current law gives the FBI just three days to complete a gun purchase background check.About NICS.” FBI. Once the three-day window elapses, gun sales are authorized at the discretion of the seller. We must close this loophole to ensure that law enforcement officials have time to complete their work before a gun sale may proceed.
  • Require law enforcement to be notified when guns are lost or stolen. Hundreds of thousands of guns go missing every year, and they may enter the illegal market and allow those legally prohibited from buying or possessing a gun to get their hands on one.Brian Freskos, “Missing Pieces: Gun Theft from Legal Gun Owners is on the Rise, Quietly Fueling Violent Crime,” The Trace, November 20, 2017. But there is no federal requirement that firearm owners notify law enforcement officials when their gun is missing. Pete supports a federal law closing this gap.
  • Promote safe storage practices to disrupt access to firearms. Research shows that responsible firearm storage can mitigate the risk of unintentional shootings, primarily those by children, suicide, and theft.Disrupting Access: Addressing Firearm Suicide in the U.S.” Everytown for Gun Safety. September 10, 2018. As President, Pete will lead the effort to encourage all gun owners to be responsible and store their guns locked, unloaded, and with the ammunition stored separately from the firearm.

Disarm hate, abuse, and terror.

  • Close the “boyfriend loophole” in federal law to help prevent domestic abuse, including within the LGBTQ community. Federal law prohibits anyone convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence crime from buying a firearm.Domestic Violence & Firearms.” Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The law as currently written, however, only protects those who are married to, live with or have lived with, or have children with their abuser. Pete supports federal legislation requiring that state or local law enforcement be notified whenever anyone, including a domestic abuser or convicted stalker, tries to buy a gun and fails a required background check.
  • Require domestic abusers to turn over any firearms they already own. When a gun is present in a domestic violence situation, an abuser is five times more likely to kill their victim.Campbell, J.C., D.W. Webster, J. Koziol-McLain, et al., “Risk factors for femicide within physically abusive intimate relationships: results from a multi-site case control study,” 93 Amer. J. of Public Health 1089-1097 (2003). Pete supports a federal law mandating that anyone subject to an order of protection or a final restraining order for domestic violence, or convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence crime, must surrender any guns in their possession to a trusted local law enforcement agency or judge, to be stored securely and returned when the order of protection is lifted.
  • Close the hate loophole, a dangerous gap that allows some people convicted of hate crimes to legally buy and possess guns. Pete supports the Disarm Hate Act, which would prohibit people convicted of a hate crime involving the use or threatened use of violence or a deadly weapon from acquiring or possessing firearms.

Research gun violence.

  • Restore critical funding for gun violence research. For over two decades, Congress has effectively cut funding from the CDC and NIH for studying gun violence.Yeager, Ashley. “Cuts to Prevention and Public Health Fund Puts CDC Programs at Risk.” The Scientist. February 9, 2018. We must treat gun violence like the public health crisis it is by researching it as one. Pete supports immediately resuming funding—at least $50 million annually—for research on the causes of gun violence and its consequences for public health.

Combat the gun lobby.

  • Repeal PLCAA to stop shielding the gun industry from liability for negligent practices that lead to gun violence. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) shields the gun industry from civil liability for business practices that directly threaten public safety. Civil liability, which is used as a critical check for nearly every American industry and product, must also extend to the gun industry.

Regulate weapons of war and new technologies.

  • Ban the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. As a veteran, Pete knows that military-grade weapons have no place being sold to civilians. The same is true for high-capacity magazines. We’ve already decided that certain weaponry—like tanks and rockets—are unacceptable in civilian hands. Congress should similarly reinstitute a ban on selling federal assault weapons and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
  • Prohibit ghost guns and at-home 3D firearms printing. New technology makes it easier than ever for people to make their own guns at home and bypass the background check system entirely. Federal law must follow the lead of states like California and New Jersey, which enacted legislation that requires that 3D-printed or self-assembled firearms, unfinished frames, and receivers carry a serial number.

Address the link between guns and suicide.

  • Enact federal Extreme Risk laws, sometimes referred to as “Red Flag” laws, to empower people to intervene and temporarily prevent someone in crisis from accessing firearms.
  • Support common sense and responsible gun safety for veterans. Between 2005 and 2017, over 53,000 military veterans died by suicide as a result of guns.Fact Sheet: Those Who Serve: Addressing Firearm Suicide Among Veterans.” Everytown for Gun Safety. 2019. In Pete’s administration, the Department of Veteran Affairs will adopt a comprehensive strategy for gun safety as part of a public health approach to mitigating suicide.

Support efforts to keep guns out of schools.

  • Support efforts to keep guns off college or university campuses and educate college communities about intervention. College communities should be familiar with extreme risk laws as a way to intervene before warning signs escalate into tragedies. Pete will also support organizing efforts by students, police chiefs, and college presidents—who overwhelmingly oppose legislation that forces colleges and universities to allow guns on campus.Guns on Campus.” Everytown for Gun Safety. April 29, 2019.
  • Incentivize states and districts to prioritize school climate through a new School Climate Innovation Fund. Pete will reward schools that intentionally focus on creating positive conditions for teaching and learning. He will initiate a five-year grant to provide funding for states and districts to develop, test, and scale school climate solutions, including for reducing discipline disparities for students of color and students with disabilities, and addressing mental and physical health needs, including trauma.


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